Week 6: Vocabulary

by Meaghan Doyle

I’ve also compiled an aggregated list of all the vocabulary words through week 6 (page 349).

agua fresca

a combination of either fruits, cereals, or seeds, and sugar and water, blended together to make a refreshing beverage


decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue

au revoir

Goodbye till we meet again (french)


relating to or typical of rural life


an image or representation especially of a person


marked by the expression of great or excessive emotion or enthusiasm

faire l’amour

to make love, to have sex (french)


to make gestures especially when speaking


abnormal drowsiness


a sexual perversion characterized by pleasure in being subjected to pain or humiliation


thank you (french)


drug dealer


of or relating to dreams


a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute


speaking or writing several languages : multilingual


writing intended to give an account of observed or documented events


marked by baseness or grossness : vile


done, made, or acquired by stealth


expressed or carried on without words or speech

voulez-vous coucher avec moi

Would you like to sleep with me (french)


a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures

Week 6: Locations

by Sara Corona Goldstein

Harlem, New York —Fate meets the Mohammedan Brotherhood here during a pro-Palestine demonstration just after 9/11. (p. 290)

Bronx, New York— Fate has an appointment with Khalil of the Mohammedan Brotherhood. (p. 292)

Mexico City —Guadalupe Roncal works for a newspaper here. (p. 296)

New York University —Fate went to college here. (p. 300)

Sioux City, Iowa —Chuck Campbell went to college here. (p. 300)

Arena del Norte boxing stadium — Fate goes here once in the morning, then again for the fight in the evening. He meets Rosa Amalfitano here. (p. 303, 305)

Veracruz, Mexico — Rosa Méndez asks if Fate has ever been here; “something bad must have happened” to her here. (p. 310)

El Rey del Taco – Fate, Rosa, Rosita, Chucho, Cruz, and Corona eat here after the fight. (p. 312)

Hermosillo—Garcia, one of Merolino’s sparring partners, spent eight years in prison here for killing his sister. (p. 319)

Charly Cruz’s house— Fate & co. end up here the night of the fight. (p. 319)

Fire, Walk With Me— a 24-hour cybercafe in Santa Teresa to which the clerk at Fate’s motel gives him directions. Fate does not go. (p. 339)

Santa Teresa prison — Rosa Amalfitano and Fate go with Guadalupe Roncal here to interview the chief suspect for the murders. (p. 345)

View 2666 Locations in a larger map

Week 6: Dream dreams the dreamer

by Maria Bustillos

Michael Mullen wrote an extraordinary reply to an earlier post, and I’d like to draw attention to it.

Seaman’s sermon I’ve mostly re-read already,  because it’s stunning and strange and raises so many questions that I can’t answer, and cuts so far down to the bone of what it is to be a sentient being. The passage about stars [p. 152] alone is so connected with other things that have been talked about already.

This leads to a discussion of metaphor that seems related to things Maria wrote earlier about Plato’s cave. “Metaphors are our ways of losing ourselves in semblances or treading water in a sea of seeming.” Stars are metaphoric reflections of the one real star, the sun of our solar system. And that star is real, why? Because if it weren’t we’d be dead? Because it can burn up astronauts in bad sci-fi movies, but isn’t that treading back toward metaphor? Because it’s the ideal from which other stars and their qualities are extrapolated?

The novel is full of dreams, and dreams within dreams, beneath a dreamlike surface, a swirling narrative. We’re trying to make sense of this all, and hoping to grasp the life jacket that won’t cause us to sink.

The stars that may be dead remind me very much of Amalfitano’s belief that places don’t exist when you leave them. That jet lag comes not from you being tired, but from the place you’ve arrived at working extra hard to constitute itself. As soon as you leave again, it slips back into semblance.

And with all of this sort of metaphysical questioning, I still believe that the novel is pointing toward the realities of injustice and exploitation, as you’ve all discussed above. You can’t go to Santa Teresa and expect not to be implicated in the crimes, or some attempt at their solution.


This approach to this book, through its poetics rather than through its politics, seems essential. If the novel were only a call to action, demanding that we “do something” about the crimes, it would surely be something quite different, would be a pamphlet in blazing red letters or a call-in radio show. Now that we’re reading something like a police procedural (in the next section,) I’m starting to appreciate the difficulties of the “pragmatic”approach to this subject a lot more. The clarion call alone would not be enough to change anyone’s mind; that kind of writing only separates us from the reality, sets us apart from it. We have to think about what it means to be human in a bigger sense in order to understand both the dream and the waking. If we could really understand it–maybe only then would we have a shot at changing how the world works.

All this by way of observing that throughout, both Oscars have been grappling with an attempt to make sense of, or to synthesize, the physical and the metaphysical—culminating at the end of this section in the successful rescue of Rosa Amalfitano. Could they have saved her if they’d been “men of action,” openly concerned with the outward manifestations of things in Santa Teresa?  Wouldn’t we have seen some kind of Sam Peckinpah bloodbath if they’d gone in all macho and confrontational?  The very dreaminess of their conduct seems to have disarmed the bad guys, both literally and figuratively.

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